Coronavirus: Hospitals in danger of collapse in Brazil's Sao Paulo
As the number of coronavirus infections rises in Brazil, the nation's largest city Sao Paulo could see a collapse of its health system. Sao Paulo Mayor Bruno Covas has warned that the city's public hospitals have reached 90% capacity, and could run out of space in two weeks. Brazil overtook Spain and Italy on Saturday to record the world's fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases.
According to BBC, Covas said, "It is hard to believe that some prefer the population to be subjected to Russian roulette. Indifference in the face of death is unseemly." He called on the population to stay at home and said that he is in crisis talks with the governor of Sao Paulo state over the imposition of a lockdown.
In Sao Paulo state, a quarantine had been imposed nearly two months ago, closing businesses, schools, and public spaces while people were asked to stay at home. However, without any costly punishments, people continue to violate rules, even flouting the recent regulation to mandatorily wear masks, BBC reported. Official figures also show that a majority of residents flout social distancing rules.
Brazil has reported over 241,000 cases of COVID-19, including 16,118 deaths, recording a death rate of 6.9%. Sao Paulo is one of the country's worst-hit regions. Only the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom have reported a higher number of coronavirus infections. Brazil also accounts for nearly half of all cases in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Notably, health experts in Brazil warn that the real number of infections could be much higher. Domingo Alves from the University of São Paulo Medical School told AFP last week, "Brazil is only testing people who end up in the hospital." Alves had authored a study that estimated the real number of infections was 15 times higher than the official figure.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has been strongly criticized for his handling of the crisis. Bolsonaro has repeatedly defied the urgent need for lockdown restrictions. On Sunday, he joined an anti-lockdown protest in the capital Brasilia, clicking photos with children and flouting social distancing norms. He has also lost two Health Ministers within a month, both of whom had resisted his fight against quarantines.